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Theatre review: I Am The Wind 
5th-May-2011 10:20 pm
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The Young Vic's commitment to international theatre shows in the latest show to come to the main house, I Am The Wind by Norwegian writer Jon Fosse (English version by the prolific Simon Stephens) with a French creative team led by director Patrice Chéreau and a British cast of Tom Brooke and Jack Laskey. Despite the title, the element you'll most remember from the show isn't wind but water, and apologies in advance if I focus a lot on this but, with me currently trying to find ways back into directing myself, I've been thinking about how much I like using water visually on stage, from having the actors drenched to more elaborate uses. It's certainly the latter here - there's even a company credited as "water consultants" to help create what is probably the most epic use of the wet stuff I've ever seen on stage.

The reason for this is that the play centres on two men on a small boat, washed out too far into the ocean. The One (Brooke) is on an existential quest which is mirrored by the sea journey, The Other (Laskey) questions him about it, never quite able to get a handle on what it is that's occupying his friend's thoughts. To be honest I'm not at all convinced by the play itself, it's got its poetic touches but it doesn't say enough to make me understand why it was chosen for a relatively large-scale production. It's lucked out in that it has though, as the two actors are predictably good - Brooke's rather alien quality being a huge plus as The One, Laskey doing his best to beef up the mainly reactive role of The Other, and the two create a visual poetry that's stonger than that of the script itself (the programme credits Thierry Thieû Niang as "Artistic Collaboration;" he seems to be a choreographer so presumably was partly behind the actors' movement.) Helping them do this, and effectively the third star of the show is Richard Peduzzi's set, a flooded stage which conceals one of the most memorable theatrical images of the year so far, an Astonishing Coup de TheatreTM that has nothing to do with piss. If you stuck Fosse's play in the Finborough I think it would tank, however good the performances. Give it some high production values in the still relatively intimate space of the Young Vic and it just about holds the attention for its short runtime, but can't disguise the fact that it's not as profound as it clearly thinks it is.

I Am The Wind by Jon Fosse in a version by Simon Stephens from a literal translation by Øystein Ulsberg Brager is booking until the 21st of May at the Young Vic; and from the 3rd to 12th of June at the Théâtre de la Ville-Paris.
Comments 
5th-May-2011 10:09 pm (UTC)
I think if I step back from my love for the staging, and for the chemistry between the two characters (navigating around each other's bodies asgjhdjsga!) then I would say that this review is pretty much spot on. But I am hugely biased because of aforementioned love and I kind of didn't care about what they were saying because it was so visually stunning.
6th-May-2011 10:45 am (UTC)
The play itself kinda bothers me more the more I think about it. Given that I've been dealing with depression for most of my life, more of what Brooke's character was talking about should have struck a chord, but there really wasn't anything about it that felt real or resonated. The comparison I keep making, and I don't think it's one they'd appreciate as the play clearly aspires to profundity, is the National's Frankenstein: Both have spectacle and performances that make the show as a whole worth seeing, but the script itself doesn't stand up to much scrutiny. I can't in all honesty recommend it but - SPOILER ALERT - the platform unexpectedly rising up out of the water has got to be one of the theatrical moments of the year.
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